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Christ Our Mediator

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 28, 2024 12:01 am

Christ Our Mediator

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 28, 2024 12:01 am

Standing between God's beloved children and the judgment we deserve is the Lord Jesus Christ, our glorious Mediator. Today, Stephen Nichols focuses on the saving work of Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King.

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In our sinfulness, we pervert and distort.

In the medieval church, it was the saints. In our day and age, it may very well be our own self-righteousness. Oh, we can do this. We white-knuckle our way out of all kinds of things. If you think you can white-knuckle your way out of the wrath of God, you've never thought about the wrath of God for a moment. There is no good news if first there isn't bad news.

We don't like to talk about the wrath of God, but it's because of the wrath of God that the good news of what Christ has done is so good, that God's grace is so amazing. Welcome to the Wednesday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm your host, Nathan W. Bingham. This week, you're hearing messages from Ligonier Ministries Winter Conference, where we considered the importance of creeds and confessions in the life of the church and in the life of the Christian. We also compiled 20 creeds, catechisms, and confessions into a new single volume that you can request when you give a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. Christ is our mediator. In fact, He's the only mediator between God and man. And today, Stephen Nichols, president of Reformation Bible College, explains this truth from Scripture, and he surveys several confessions that highlight this precious doctrine.

Here's Dr. Nichols. Fear gripped Martin Luther when he was a college student at Erfurt. He would allow extra time to make his way to his classes so that he could take a circuitous route so that he could avoid what he thought a ghastly image, an image of Christ. Christ is judge, sword protruding from his mouth, ready to judge. And when he finished his baccalaureate studies at Erfurt and had completed his law studies, he made a journey home.

The year was 1505. On the way back to Erfurt, he was caught in a horrific thunderstorm. He found himself trying to seek shelter along this highway, and he finds this rock and in sheer desperation, thinking that God had unleashed this thunderstorm to take his life. Luther grasps this rock and he cries out, help me, Saint Anne. He was the only mediator he knew. He would not think to cry out to Christ.

And he certainly would not cry out to God. Help me, Saint Anne. We know that the mediator is Christ. It's the title of my talk. Christ, our mediator. And our task is to trace the development of this wonderful doctrine of the mediatorial offices of Christ and the development of the creeds and the catechisms and the confessions. And so we reach back to the Apostles' Creed and we see those lines in the Apostles' Creed that outline that mission of Jesus as he was incarnate, as he suffered, as he died, as he was buried, and as he rose again. And then we move on to the Nicene Creed. And Chris mentioned it was a book title, probably my favorite six words in all of theological literature, from the Nicene Creed, for us and for our salvation. What a beautiful statement of Christ, our mediator. We just sang it in this beautiful hymn, Jesus, what a friend for sinners.

And we get to that penultimate verse and we say, I am his, and he is mine. After Nicaea and Chalcedon, we move into the dark quarters, as far as doctrinal development goes, of the Middle Ages. And the doctrine of the mediator became mediators.

And even as the doctrine developed became the mediatrix. And so there are the saints, saints who have more graces than they need. And so poor sinners with less graces than they need. And if you noticed, yes, I am quantifying it, because that is part of the problem with medieval theology. It quantified sin and saw it as sins and consequently quantified grace and righteousness and saw it as graces and righteousnesses, not a state. We sin, we have sins because we are a sinner.

That's the root of the problem. But they spoke in terms of sins and graces and demerits and merits and merits outweighing demerits and those having more merits than they needed assembled into a treasury of heaven. And now you can appeal to those graces.

And at the top of that chain of saints is the saint who is full of grace, quantity full of grace, Mary. And so we have Luther, probably not as sincere, more sincere seeker in the era leading up to the reformation than Martin Luther. As much as he feared God, he would write later in his life, as much as he feared God, as much as he literally quaked knowing the day of judgment was coming. As much as he feared God, he said, I desired to be saved. And his church did not have the answer.

So pointing to mediators, pointing to the mediatrix, knowing that these are not sufficient mediators to bridge the gap between sinful humanity and holy God. And along comes the reformation. One of the early catechisms in the reformation is the Geneva catechism. Calvin took a first stab at it in 1537, right after he is set up there in Geneva. There's that slight disruption where they, they beg him to stay and then they kick him out. Fickle, fickle people, the Genovese.

Goes to Strasbourg, comes back to Geneva. And in 1542, polishes up the old catechism. Calvin noticed something. This is very interesting in the development of doctrine. A Calvin noticed that Christ is a title. Jesus, the Christ is a title, and it means the anointed one. And then Calvin, clever theologian that he was, started looking through the old Testament to see the offices where there was an anointing.

And he soon discovered three. Prophets were anointed. Priests were anointed.

And kings were anointed. And Calvin introduces a beautiful doctrine into the development of theology in the church. It is the doctrine of what we call the munis triplex, the threefold office of Christ.

Now it's triplex, threefold. It's not three offices. Calvin saw the unity of the offices and that's important. We'll come back to it, but he's going through the old Testament. And what does he see? Moses, who was anointed by God. And then we bump into Elisha and Elisha was anointed in a very, a very strange way. Sometimes my imagination may run away from me a little bit and I, I can picture Elisha and someone asks him, so what do you do? And he says, I'm a prophet. And the next question is, oh, how does one become a prophet?

And he said, well, I was, I was standing by the road, sort of minding my own business. And along comes this guy and I come later to find out he's named Elijah. Along comes this guy, Elijah, and he sees me and he, he throws his coat at me. And, well, I'm a prophet. If you don't believe me, read about it in scripture. And then Exodus 30, 30 tells us that Aaron was anointed with a precious oil. Scent is important in the book of Exodus. There are, there are Romans and the book of Exodus and in the book of Leviticus, there are aromas that are not pleasing to God. They're unpleasant to God.

Anthropomorphically speaking, they are a stench in the nostrils of God. But then thankfully there are aromas that are pleasing to God. And the aroma of the oil anointed over the priest's head. And then there was the king. Israel thought it knew better than God for what it needed. And God did grant a king. And along comes one of those prophets who was anointed, who then himself anoints Saul in 1 Samuel 10, only to be followed up six chapters later with anointing David.

And so Calvin sees that the title Christos means anointed one. And he sees that, that over the course of, of God revealing his will, revealing himself, guiding his people, he gave his people the gift of mediators and they were prophets. And these prophets would both forth tell and foretell. They would declare God's word and they would prophesy. They were there pointing their bony fingers at Israel every time Israel was, was staggering away, wandering away from the covenant.

Wandering away from God's law, transgressing, literally walking over it. And there comes the prophet. Judgment will come, but call out and deliverance will come. And there's the priest and there's the temple and the tabernacle.

And don't miss it. The tabernacle, the tent and the temple, they were anointed too, weren't they? Special dwelling places of God. And the priest, the high priest would be anointed and the priests would be anointed.

And then they could go in and carry out their duties. And even the instruments in the temple were what? Anointed. Because this is a holy God and this is an unholy people and they're outside the tent and they're outside the courtyard and inside that tent and inside the tent itself, there's that holy place. And inside that there's the ark. And, and what does, what does God say to Moses in Exodus?

There I will meet you. How beautiful. But Israel could not dare go in there, only one, in that one day a year. This Calvin sees coming to fulfillment, coming to fruition, reaching the zenith, the apex in Christ. No other prophet, priest, and king could hold more than one of those offices. And when they tried to, good things did not follow.

Christ not only holds all three, He holds all three perfectly. And for the first time in church history, Calvin in 1542 introduces to the church the idea that Christ is our prophet, priest, and king. And then let's move a little bit to the year 1559. I don't know what happened in the year 1559. I have no idea how to explain this, but in the year 1559, it was an explosion of confessions. I like to say they were confessing like it was 1559. The first one was the French confession.

The Reformation never got a strong foothold in France. There was a moment where it looked like it would, but why are we doing this? Why are we pushing, risking, suffering? It does matter what we believe. And so, through the assistance of Calvin, you know he was in Geneva, Swiss City. His heart was in France.

He was a Frenchman. So, through Calvin's assistance and others, we have the French confession of 1559. And then a group of Calvinists made their way over to Hungary, and we have a Hungarian confession in 1559. And then there's a town in Poland. It's spelled P-I-N-C-Z-O-W.

It's pronounced Pynchow. And there at Pynchow in 1559, a Polish confession was written. The entire Pynchow confession is structured around Christ our mediator. It has two sections to it. The first section is the person of Christ as the God-man.

So, it's good old Nicene, Chalcedonian, Christology. And then the next half, the larger half of the confession, and it probably runs five or six pages, is all on these mediatorial roles. And so, it first starts off with Christ as our prophet. And it zeroes in, hones in on the idea that Christ came to reveal the Father.

That was his mission. And so, he is a prophet, and that he is a teacher, and a revealer. But he's a prophet unlike any other prophet in the Old Testament. Every other prophet in the Old Testament stands up and says what? Thus says the Lord, or for all of us who grew up on the King James, thus saith, just sounds better, thus saith the Lord. Not, not, not Jesus.

You've heard it said. And he's on a mount. And Moses was on a mount. And Moses received the law, and Moses relayed the law. Moses, that first prophet. But not this prophet.

You've heard it said. But I say unto you. What was the scandal of Jesus? What was the scandal of Jesus for the religious leaders? This man teaches like he has authority.

It wasn't a mediated authority, a derived authority, a contingent authority. It was an authority in his own being because he's a prophet like any other. And what did he do but show us the Father? And he gets to the end of his life, and he's anticipating that coming of the garden, and he's anticipating that coming of bearing the wrath of God.

And he says to the Father, mission accomplished. I came to reveal you, and I have made you known. It's a prophet. So, the Pinchov Confession tells us that the Son of God performed this office so that he might reveal his Father to us, that he might reveal his entire plan for our salvation, both now and through the ages until the consummation. He persists in this very office of mediator so that he may reveal to us the mystery of our salvation, which was established by his Father before all eternity through the prophetic Old Testament and apostolic New Testament scriptures and through the ongoing ministry of his Word in his church, so that he may catch this. We have the Word. We have the ministry of preaching.

And behind that is Christ the teacher, so that Christ may perpetually stabilize, train, and strengthen our faith. Stabilize. Seems like a boring word, doesn't it?

Ordinary word, doesn't it? Until you're in an earthquake, then it's kind of nice to be stable. Or you're on a ship, and the waves roll. It's kind of nice to be stable. Do you feel it today? Feels like we're in an earthquake, doesn't it?

It feels like the waves just keep pummeling, pummeling, pummeling. And where do we stand in all of this tumult? Jesus teaches us, stabilizes us. A Pinchov confession goes on to speak of Christ as King. Think of these Polish reformed people. And they're in the minority, and they're being persecuted. We have some friends here from Voice of the Martyrs. They could tell us about our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We speak of waves and earthquakes. They could put widows in front of us, whose husbands' lives were taken because of their faith in Christ. This sense of a marginalized, suffering, persecuted people. These are the people for whom the Pinchov confession was written.

And this is what the Pinchov confession tells us. Lastly, under the title of King, we believe and profess that He is the eternal King of Kings. He has conquered Satan and the whole world by His royal powers.

He gathers us into His church already from the beginning of the world until the consummation of the age. He governs us with His Holy Spirit against every tyranny of Satan and the world so that He may defend and protect as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords so that even the gates of hell may never be able to prevail against His church. Our same King and mediator governs us in His church with His royal scepter, namely, His gospel in His most holy doctrine. The King of Kings reigns.

Not the King of Poland. The King of King reigns. We are in His hands. We are under His protection, even in times, especially in times of suffering and persecution. Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He Himself suffered. One German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, once said, one must be a king of a very strange kingdom indeed if the King was crucified on a cross. And so Jesus, our King, no stranger to sorrow, is able to protect and defend and comfort His church as the slings and arrows assail her. It's another confession in 1559.

Might be my favorite because I like the name of the person who wrote it. Letanzio Ragnoni. Can't wait to meet him. Letanzio Ragnoni is an Italian, in case you haven't guessed. Jurist.

Brilliant. Naples. Padua. Heard the Reformed teaching. Became converted, embracing the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Becomes part of a Waldensian congregation. This goes back to Peter Waldo, 12th century French, pre-Reformation reformer. And his followers, the Waldensians, scattered throughout Europe, small bands. And he gets severely persecuted and with several other Italians, finds himself in 1551 in Geneva. And a few years later, six years later, 1557, he's made the pastor after studying, applying his, just as Calvin Luther studied for law, the humanities, applies that now to theology, scripture. And so he becomes pastor of the Italian congregation there in Geneva in 1557. And in 1559, Letanzio Ragnoni writes his Formulario, Doctrinal Formulus, in Italian, written in Geneva, but in Italian for the Italians.

This is great. French, Hungarian, Polish, Italians. The Scots are the Johnny-come-latelys. They don't write their confession till 1560, a whole year later. And let's not talk about the Presbyterians.

There's like a century off with Westminster, but there are the Italians. It is therefore not possible, he writes in his article on Christ, our mediator, soul mediator, an advocate before the Father. It is therefore not possible nor allowed to come to God by any other means.

No more, help me, Saint Anne. No mediatrix doctrine. Paul declared it. There is one God, and there is one mediator. The Roman Catholic Church understood that to mean there's one transcendent mediator with secondary mediators. The Reformers helped us understand the exclusivity of God.

They understand the exclusivity of that. I am the way. I am the truth.

I am the life. There's salvation found in only one name Peter will thunderously preach. And then Paul declares it, one mediator. So, latanzio ragnoni, it is therefore not possible nor allowed to come to God by any other means. There's no name given to invoke and beseech him or ask any grace or benefit from him or pray him or ask him any grace or benefit.

For Christ alone is our true mediator and advocate. He alone is the head, the sumis pontifex. And back in 1453, the pope took an old holy Roman emperor title rather, Pontificus Maximus, the supreme high priest.

The pope took it in 1453, still has it as a title. Doesn't belong to him. Belongs to Christ. Christ is the sumis pontifex or pontificus Maximus, expressing it the same way of his church. He alone is the one in whom the Father is wholly pleased.

It's the beloved Son in whom God is well pleased. And in Him alone, the Father placed the whole treasure of His blessings. This gets at a horrid medieval doctrine of the treasury of merits. Those saints who had their extra graces to make it a visual impact, the Catholic church actually taught there was a literal treasury in heaven where these graces existed and they could be dispensed and they were dispensed through the church into sacraments. And there could not be salvation found outside of the Roman Catholic church.

So, again, we set the record straight. In Christ alone, the Father placed the whole treasure of His blessings, establishing that in Him alone, they should be dispensed and communicated to us so that outside of Him...see what He does there? Not outside of the church, there is no salvation.

He needs clarity here. Outside of Christ, there is no salvation nor any good, nor any good but only condemnation and curse. Without Christ, we are without hope in this world. Where does this theology come from?

I've already explained how it derives biblically, but let's just think about this. Where in the Gospels, let's take Luke. Do you remember where in the Gospel of Luke we first hear this title, Anointed One? Not to Mary. Mary is told that you will have a son and you will call his name Jesus. Joshua, strong Redeemer. But it's to the shepherds. For unto you this day is born in the city of David, who was anointed in 1 Samuel chapter 16 as king, Christ the Lord, the Savior, Christ. We learn right from the beginning of the Gospels, right as Jesus...what did Spurgeon say?

What a strange thing. Men are born princes, not kings. They're born princes and they become kings.

Or in the case of Elizabeth, a princess who becomes queen. But they're not born queens and they're not born kings, but Jesus was. Jesus was not born a prince. He was born a king. From the moment he's an infant, he's the anointed one. From the moment he's the infant, he's the prophet, he's the king. But let's get to the heart of it. He's the priest.

Let's think about that for a while. His mediatorial role as priest. Because at the end of the day, what do we need a mediator for? Well, let's let Romans 5 give us the answer. Romans chapter 5 verse 1. Paul says, Here we see Christ as our mediator. We see that we are justified, and these prepositions are very important, through Christ, by Christ. And Christ is for us. And Christ accomplishes this mediatorial role on behalf of us.

He is our mediator and he brings us peace. The key here is if we read on in chapter 5, we see why we need this. Take a look at verse 6. We are weak. Verse 6 again. We are ungodly. Verse 8. We are sinners.

And then to make this so palpable, verse 10. We are the very enemies of God. We don't need a mediator because we are sick and in need of medicine. We don't need a mediator because we don't have quite enough graces to escape purgatory.

We need a mediator because we have rebelled against a holy God. You know, if you go back to Romans 1 very quickly at verse 18, always found this fascinating. We have the introduction to Romans.

We have the theme stated of the gospel there in verse 16 and 17. And now Romans proper begins. The argument of Romans begins at verse 18. The flow of Romans begins.

The introduction, the foundation is established. Paul's given us the neon light with the arrow of telling us the direction he's going with this epistle. And now he starts Romans 1 18. This is the beginning of it. And what hits us as soon as we commence? The wrath of God. Paul doesn't beat around the bush. Paul doesn't start off in left field and eventually bring us to the point.

Paul gets to it right down to business. There's a massive boulder that is about to crush you. And you know what it's called? The wrath of God. It's the elephant in the room. If the elephant were infinite in size. And how do we go from wrath to peace? A mediator.

Literally someone stands in the middle. And I know chapter numbers and verses were added. I could tell you the story of the guy on horseback, riding out the chapter and verse numbers.

And every once in a while, he might have slipped. And maybe that explains why verses are divided in very strange places. But permit me, Romans 3, as a number, comes between 1 and 5. And 1 is the wrath of God. And chapter 5 is the peace of God. And chapter 5 is the peace of God. And chapter 3, verses 21 to the end, is the most prized real estate for the doctrine of justification in the Bible.

Numbers aside, in between the wrath of God and the peace of God is the doctrine of justification. And we have to say it. We have to say it.

Sola, sola, sola. Sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus. We have to say it because in our sinfulness, we pervert and distort. And we cling to this thing.

And in the medieval church, it was the saints. In our day and age, it may very well be our own self-righteousness. Well, we can do this. We're Americans. We white knuckle our way out of all kinds of things. We can white knuckle our way out of...no, you can't.

If you think you can white knuckle your way out of the wrath of God, you've never thought about the wrath of God for a moment. But back to chapter five, Jesus did it for us. And so we have peace. Oh, our hearts are no longer restless. They're settled. There's no longer that sword hanging overhead.

It fell. Upon the one who was sent for us. These two verses are chock full of beautiful things. The doctrine of justification.

Paul and his brilliant method, his so helpful method as a teacher, chapter five, he's going to just sum it all up for you. We have been justified by faith. He's been saying that since chapter three, verse twenty-one. Been justified by faith. So we've got in these two verses, we've got the beautiful doctrine of justification.

I've already mentioned it. We've got peace, but let's take a moment and see what else we have in here. Through him, through Christ, we have also obtained access. Access. Access.

Access. You know, I love our conference badges here at Ligonier. I always love the art that's on them. And occasionally, we may have times where we have small events or maybe one of our friends may host something in their home as a dinner and they always want to show us their library because that's what Reformed people do. We love to see libraries, personal libraries. And I love to go into some libraries and they're hanging on one of the shelves. It's just badge after badge after badge.

And I know you're my people. But some of us at these national conferences get badges that at the bottom say, access. I often think about auctioning them, because after all, I have a college to fund. But isn't it great to have access? There's the door or the curtain and there's the security and they're blocking the access.

And you want to get through and they look at your badge. No. Go back.

But you're in Christ. Oh, this isn't access to some speaker room. All we do is sit in there and tell jokes and drink coffee anyways. This isn't access to backstage at a concert. This isn't access to a king, a world leader, access to a CEO, access to the head of the hedge fund. This is access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This is access to the very throne room in heaven. Sea of glass spread out before it. This is access.

We have obtained access. And then notice what else is in this beautiful, beautiful passage. Not only does grace save us, grace saves us. It removes wrath. It removes sin. It removes our guilt. All of our sin, guilt, disobedience, rebellion, transgression, all of it is on Jesus. He takes our filthy rags. He takes our filthy rags and His righteous robe is on us. Grace saves us, but there's something else grace does.

It sustains us. Not only do we have access, but we are saved and sustained by this grace. And it is in this grace that we stand. Do you remember what Paul's going to say in 1 Corinthians chapter 12? He's going to talk about that thorn in the flesh.

What a fascinating passage. And he's going to come to say that in our weakness, in our weakness, God mercifully does not remove the thorn of flesh because God mercifully wants Paul to learn this lesson that in Paul's weakness, God's strength is manifested. And then Paul learned this. Paul says, I had to learn this. I think Paul was probably the most brilliant person on the face of the earth. And Paul says, I had to learn this. And we don't know exact chronology of this thorn in the flesh, but it's after his conversion.

And do you know what he says he learned? My grace is sufficient. Present ongoing sufficiency. Grace saves us. Grace sustains us. Grace simply wasn't dispensed back in the past. It is.

It is. And we stand in it and all things get hurled at us. We go back to Ragnoni's Formulario, the tyranny of Satan, hurled at us. The arrows of our enemies hurled at us. The frailties of our flesh, the weakness of our flesh, the suffering, the loss of loved ones.

It all gets hurled at us. And there is our God-man, all-sufficient mediator, perfectly discharging his office of priest. And what do we have but joy and hope? And so Paul says, we rejoice in hope.

We said it earlier. What a bleak statement. To be without Christ in this world is to be without hope.

Disillusioned. Try this mediator doesn't work. Try this mediator doesn't work. This mediator promises deliverance. Hope built on sand. It's not a hope. That's a wish dream. But this is real.

This is hope. Christ, our mediator. We had a moment Thursday afternoon with Dr. Reeves, with a throwback to the old Ligonier Valley Study Center days. We had a theology gab fest. And I was the mediator between Dr. Reeves and the students for them to ask questions. And they weren't supposed to ask me a question. They were supposed to ask him questions.

He came all the way from Britain to spend time with them. But one of our students, Ruth, asked, well, what's your greatest joy as a Christian? And Dr. Reeves answered the doctrine of God, and after he answered the doctrine of God, I couldn't not answer the question. Not answer the doctrine of God. So I had to answer the doctrine of God. But now, now I can tell you.

And it's this. I'm a guest at the feast and I don't deserve it. Isaac Watts wrote to him, how sweet and awesome is this place. If you don't know it, find it. How sweet and awesome is this place. With Christ within the doors, while everlasting love displays the choicest of her stores. This is the marriage supper of the lamb. Watts is thinking of the church service as a picture of the marriage supper of the lamb to come. And then the second verse, while all our hearts and all our songs join to admire the feast. This, this is, this is rejoicing. This is praising God for the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. This is rejoicing of the riches that are ours in Christ Jesus. This is rejoicing in our mediator who has opened the treasure of heaven and the riches of his grace and mercy and has poured it out over us abundantly. And we join around this, this feast and our hearts are knit together and our songs join to admire the feast. And then Watts says this, each of us cries with thoughtful tongue, Lord, why was I a guest?

We were weak sinners, ungodly enemies. None of us, none of us deserve a place at that table. But God in his mercy gave us his son. And so we all get to sit at the feast. We all have a place at the table.

And none of us deserve it. Father under God, how thankful we are that there is one mediator. That even though we were your enemies, Christ died for us. That he is the bread of life. That he is the living water. That he is the pascal lamb, spotless without blemish, slain for us. That he is our mediator. May our hearts swell with gratitude and overflow with praise and obedience to you and pray these things in Christ's name and through him and by him. Amen. Aren't you so thankful that we who are in Christ have him as our mediator? This is the Wednesday edition of Renewing Your Mind and you're hearing select messages from our recent winter conference in central Florida.

You can listen to all of the messages for free in the Ligonier app or on ligonier.org. We believe was the name of this conference and it's also the name of a new hard cover volume that brings together 20 creeds, catechisms, and confessions from church history and provides brief introductions to each. It can be yours when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800 435 4343. It's a wonderful resource for any library but would also make for a great gift for a pastor or someone serving in ministry. Request yours today at renewingyourmind.org. What is sanctification? Looking to scripture and the Westminster confession of faith, Michael Reeves will join us tomorrow to explain here on Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-28 03:05:12 / 2024-02-28 03:20:16 / 15

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